La Nation council has decided to continue with the process of changing the municipality’s ward boundaries. Originally, council had planned to defer a decision on new territories for council representation until the COVID-19 pandemic completely subsided. However, when it met on June 15, council decided to proceed with the process in July and August.
“It’s getting to the point where we can’t wait,” said Mayor François St-Amour. A report from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Josée Brizard that was presented at the June 15 meeting states that on July 13, Dr. Robert Williams will make a final presentation to council of the possible changes for the ward boundaries. Williams, along with Watson and Associates, were commissioned by La Nation earlier this year to undertake the review study. When council meets on August 10 it will choose an option for the new ward boundaries. Once council has made that choice, a by-law to formally establish the new ward boundaries will go before council on August 24.
The decision to adjust the ward boundaries was made in response to continued rapid population growth in Limoges, which is in Ward Four. The entire population of the La Nation municipality is expected to increase from 13,900 in 2020 to 15,100 by 2030, with most of the increase occurring in Limoges and St-Albert.
The ward boundary review study recommended four possible options, all of which involved decreasing the size of Ward Four in order to better serve the growing population of Limoges. Just two options will be presented to council for consideration when Williams makes his presentation on July 13. The original four options were widely criticized for creating further imbalances in representation, mixing urban and rural areas, or excluding residents on the periphery of Limoges. Public meetings were held during the winter on the options and there was widespread dissatisfaction, including from Ward Four Councillor Francis Brière. The options presented on July 13 could differ considerably from those in the report.
Limoges resident Dave Mushing said he is waiting to see what the options presented to council will be. He speculated that the options could be eliminating wards having councillors for the entire municipality elected at large or having Ward Four divided into two new wards. Mushing said that one of the options in the report could be presented because it makes mathematical sense, even if it ignores communities of interest.
“Ward 4 residents feel very underrepresented at the municipal level, and I’m not overly confident that the ward boundary review is going to alleviate that,” said Mushing.
Changes in pandemic restrictions that permit indoor gatherings of up to 10 people have made it possible for council to again meet in person. St-Amour said that it is good to have council and staff together again. The July 13 meeting will be held in-person at the municipal office, but current restrictions still prohibit the public from attending.